Cidolfas's RPG Reviews: Illusion of Gaia (SNES)
You Are: Will, a fairly generic kid with some interesting powers.
Your Goal Is: To collect the six Mystic Statues for an ill-defined reason, and figure out what happened to your father, Osman, in the Tower of Babel.
General System: The quintessential action RPG. Outside of battle, Will can't do much but talk to people or rest at the "Dark Spaces". The only other conceit is the fifty Red Jewels scattered around the world, which you can give to the master of disguise, Gem the Jeweler, who will reward you with powerups and (if you get all of them) a secret dungeon. Note that the only way to refill your HP is to enter a Dark Space or use a herb, of which there are a set amount throughout the game.
Battle System: Walk around and bash things. Will actually has three forms: he can assume the persona of Freedan, the knight, and Shadow, a shapeshifter. All three forms have a couple of moves, and you'll often have to switch back and forth between the two (Shadow doesn't appear till very late) to continue. Unfortunately, you can't switch outside of a Dark Space, but that's part of the puzzle. Enemies will also drop Dark Gems; collect 99 of them and you get a continue (albeit at low HP). Your main goal is to completely destroy all the enemies on every screen; you won't gain in stats (HP, power, or defense) until you do.
Graphics: Large and quite good for an SNES game.
Music: Some excellent tracks, though the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired. Above average.
Story: Pretty bare bones. It actually takes you through a bunch of places named for real-world ancient wonders (the Nazca Plains, the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat), although the real world version obviously isn't swarming with monsters. The story is extremely linear, and you often can't return to where you've been, making collecting 50 Red Jewels almost impossible without an FAQ. The characters are one-dimensional and the translation is mediocre (though not awful). Although there are some interesting things brought up (not many RPGs deal with slave labour or are actually narrated by their hero), you won't spend too long thinking about it. Bashing all those monsters is a lot more fun. 8-)
Challenge: Generally very easy, but some bosses can really smack you.
Length: About 15 hours.
My Thoughts: IoG is short and sweet. It's one of those games I can keep coming back to and going from start to finish every few months, because it's just that fun. Don't ask me what appeals to me - it's something in the style, the gameplay, the comfort level... I dunno. But I rarely get sick of it. You should definitely give it a whirl if you have a chance.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10